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Affirmations for Legal Professionals – Because I’m Happy

If there’s one comment I get when instructing about Affirmations to anyone, it’s usually this: “…affirmations are great and all, but they only strengthen me for a short period of time and then I return back to my old self…” It’s a common statement said by many working professionals. I’ve heard many times over and over that attorneys fight hard and vigorously for their clients, or legal assistants are so busy they barely have the time to breathe.

Even as a Marketing Director, I have experienced countless times where I’ve been in over my head with work and asking myself, where does the line get drawn? The true answer relies in the outlook on your job. If you see your job as something where you go in and collect money for work, the job is almost fruitless. It’s like the song goes by Pharrell Williams, “Because I’m Happy”. If you’re not happy, then why are you doing your job? What changes do I need to make so I’m living my dream? It’s always been that primary question to acquiring whatever we want in life, some say prayer will turn it on, some say change your mindset, some people say meditate, but as we know there is no solid answer. Actually, I lied, there is a solid answer; you must first enjoy doing what you do best and be happy with it. I like to sometimes refer back to Gerry Oginski, Esq. who claims at the end of each of his videos, “I do this every day and I would love to talk to you.” The keyword is that he “loves his job and loves law.” There’s no higher emotion than love people. This topic is only the start to acquiring a better, more positive, you.

 

 

Affirmation #16:

“My job is not a place where I go in and collect a paycheck each week. That’s a pointless and old mentality that I was raised with. My new mentality will instead involve a workplace where I can interact with my colleagues, establish important relations and learn new skills that I’ve never thought possible. If I seriously can’t do that, it’s high time for me to get out of there and find a new job.”

 

Affirmation #17:

“I do what makes me feel happy and no one can tell me otherwise.”

 

Affirmation #18:

“If for some reason I’m burden with work, ask yourself, well would you rather be bored and have nothing to do? Being busy is sometimes best, and it pays off at the end of the week with a special cocktail of my choice.”

 

I’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed this segment on Affirmations for Legal Professionals. Take care and have a happy rest of your week!

Legally Strange – Boyfriend’s Fire Challenge Goes Awry

Do you remember the days in college when you had drinking challenges with your friends? (Raise of hands everyone.) Apparently, challenges are the new hype happening in 2014, going all the way from the ever-popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the dangerous Fire Challenge – a challenge where you light someone on fire! Could these kids think of anything more asinine? There are already a handful of dangerous challenges out there and this one ranks right to the top of the list. What’s next, blasting yourself out of a cannon to see how much distance you can cover? But then again I digress, because numerous amounts of individuals have been injured or killed, leaving them to have scars for life. What’s worse is that this week’s Legally Strange didn’t take too far from our Punta Gorda office; it takes place in a nearby city of Bradenton, where a Florida woman set her boyfriend on fire after dousing him in rubbing alcohol.

 

C’mon Baby Light My Fire

Necole Stephens, age 35, tried using the “Fire Challenge” as a get out of jail card (as if that would work), when she arrested earlier this week on charges of aggravated assault. According to the investigator’s report, Stephens, became jealous of her boyfriend, Macros Fuentes, when he apparently texted someone. It hasn’t been made clear of what the text contained or to whom it was; but it’s most likely another female. If you ask me, it takes the song “Light My Fire” to a whole another level.

 

 

During the phone conversation deputy officials had with Stephens, she claimed that her boyfriend was participating in the alcohol challenge voluntarily and was scared when the situation went awry, forcing her to leave her home. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to agree with Fuentes’ burns, nor the investigator’s repeated requests to return home, landing her in the “hot-seat” earlier this week. She’s currently on bail of $15,000.

Now tell me everyone, what happened to common sense, is it not so common anymore?

Necole Stephens and Macros Fuentes

Facebook Photo of Necole Stephens and Macros Fuentes, taken last June

 

Legally Strange – Goodwill Won’t Accept Your Skulls

When Goodwill states on their website that they’ll accept most clothing and household items in acceptable condition, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean to accept skulls. This past July, a Goodwill store in Bellevue, Washington received 3 skulls, one of them being the remains of an ancient Native American child. Initially, I never covered a Legally Strange for this bizarre occurrence, but when it happened again in Austin, Texas, it seemed like something out a horror movie.

Who in the world is dropping off skulls at Goodwill stores?

 

Please Deposit Your Remains to your local Medical Examiner, not the Donation Bin at Goodwill

When the first instance occurred back in July of this year, the Medical Examiner in County made it clear that any unused or archaeological remains can be donated to the King County office. But the nationwide announcement must have caught someone’s attention to drop off another skull in Austin, Texas.

Even though medical officials in Austin, Texas have identified the skull as an adult; (probably part of a private collection, dating back approximately 2 years) it’s still unacceptable in the eyes of the law.

It’s not uncommon that Goodwill receives unusual items like prosthetic limbs, Rolex watches and more tells Traci Berry from Goodwill. But human skulls are whole another thing; it’s like Halloween instead of Christmas.

On a more interesting note, some human skulls can go for quite a bit of money even estimating close to $2,000 a pop. Skulls Unlimited, a website dedicated to selling skulls, even purchases them, which is probably the most baffling question to this mystery; why in the world wouldn’t you sell the skulls instead?! Even though the Austin Police Department has mentioned that there weren’t any signs of crime with the skull, that person could have missed out on hundreds to thousands of dollars. The same scenario would most likely have been certain for the Bellevue, Washington case.

 

Click to Sell Skulls

 

Maybe now, after this situation has occurred twice, people will realize that dropping skulls in a donation bin at Goodwill is unacceptable and certainly foul towards your charity causes. Lesson learned kids, use your head and don’t sell it.

Social Media for Law Firms – Where Should I Begin? (Part 1)

I remember back in the early 1990’s when my parents used to throw me birthday parties. In preparation to each party, my mom would send out over 50-60 RSVP letters to my family or friends. I can also remember the endless nights where my mom would be on the phone, talking to her friends or family about something (at the time I really didn’t care, but you’d think that the parties would come up in conversation, right?) As a result of her efforts, people attended the events and the rest is history.

But why am I telling you this?

To put it simply, this was the “traditional” way of connecting with people. Imagine the time before the actual telephone was invented (yet alone cell-phone). And while that short intro may have been a bad example to today’s discussion, I’ll tell you that there was no other way to communicate with anyone; excluding the invention of e-mail. But today, there’s social media, one of the most common ways to communicate with people and it’s all done through a few simple clicks – or is it?

Today’s social media post is going to reflect one of the most important questions out there, where do I begin when it comes to social media? This post will be so in-depth and detailed; I had to break it into two posts.

 

Social Media – Explained

To begin and analyze this topic, we’ll have to define what social media is. (For those who are tech-savvy you can skip this part.)

The actual Wikipedia definition of social media is the “social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.” Does Twitter and Facebook ring a bell?

If you’ve guessed it, we’re all interacting on social media sites every day and there’s a good reason for it: we want our information instantaneous. In a previous post I’ve made it clear that we aren’t living in the year 1995. Social media has become one of the most mainstream ways of how people, companies and organizations alike establish communication between their friends and clients. But there becomes a problem; some of us have shunned away from the ideas and practices of social media. Sometimes we’ve been taught that the mentality of social media is “evil” and can cause more harm than good. If you recall my Facebook post, you may remember the image that says: “Welcome to Facebook. Proceed with Caution.”

 

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Some people have coined the term of social media as a “wild playground” where everything goes, both good and bad. But that same scenario can be used towards many major decisions in life, like buying a car or finding a mate. At least 95% of people on this planet make the exact same decisions. Have you ever heard the song “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by the Blue Oyster Cult? If you listen and understand the lyrics, it suggests that there’s an undying love and inevitability of death. But if you take the lyrics one step further, death does approach, but the spirit of love doesn’t die. Now how does this relate to social media? Well, the mentality of a “wild playground” may be similar to death, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a good-side to it; and 9 out of 10 times, the love, always prevails, completing dismissing the ideas of a “wild playground”.

 

Two Directions

Even with the ideas of harnessing the atmosphere of “wild playground” may still be farfetched to some, to others it will be a piece of cake. Which may leave you at the crossroad, “who’s responsible for work on my social media pages; will it be myself, or someone I hire out?” It’s always an excellent question to address.

 

Hiring Someone

Before you decide to pull the trigger and hire a full-time social media marketing guru (or someone of the sort), you will need to answer two key questions: time and amount of content. How often will your content be displayed on your pages and for how long? In this case example, I’ll share the ideas of Steve Kramer, Esq. (one of our followers) on Twitter:

Steve Kramer Twitter

You’ll notice his feed is always being populated with information. Whether Steve Kramer is doing this himself or his marketing professional is beyond me. More notably, he’s accumulated over 28,600 followers in a total of little over 3 years. Now that’s a lot.

It’s rather simple for someone to sign-up for a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube account and populate them with on-screen instructions; even yourself could spend an hour or two on reading the basics of how social media platforms work. But it doesn’t mean you’re a genius at it. True social media experts have their salaries escalate from anywhere to 104,000 a year and up; and for a darn good reason: They know how to establish content quickly and efficiently, not to mention connecting with the right people almost instantaneously. They know just about every in-and-out of the platforms and they’re a rare breed. However, content writers and bloggers (who have experience in the industry and know the common tools) will value themselves around 20,000 a year and up. You may also want to consider out-of-college students and individuals who have 5-10 years in the field; they are still getting their feet wet, but have a good idea and practice of the platforms. However, if you have an individual dedicated to your marketing tactics, you may want to consult with them on the matter. Always check for their references when they apply and confirm their credentials are indeed valid. The last thing you’ll want is to hire is a phony.

 

Yours and Yours Alone

The answer to this question will be a simple one. Do you (most likely addressing to an attorney) have the time and energy to dedicate into flooding your accounts with information? If the answer is simply no, or I don’t have enough time to dedicate to my social media pages, you’ll most likely want to hire a part-time or full-time marketing / social media specialist. Another pro (but perhaps sometimes a con) to this, is that you’re completely in control of your social media posts. You won’t have to worry about someone accidentally posting something you don’t want to.

 

 

The Careful Strategies, But Do Enjoy Your Latte

If you’re completely naïve to social media scene, it’s best to consult a marketing or social media strategist before establishing your accounts. The same could be said for someone being a victim of a medical malpractice; therefore they should consult a lawyer who handles that practice. Remember, your company image is everything; and as for those haters who think they’ll get the best of you, they’re going to hate whether you have a presence online or not. In the meanwhile, enjoy your latte and see you next time for part 2.

Obscure Law of the Month – Is It Illegal to Mispronounce Arkansas?

There’s been a bit of an urban legend in Arkansas, that if you mispronounce the state name incorrectly, it would be considered illegal. To debunk this urban myth, Title 1, Chapter 4, Section 105 of the Arkansas State Code specifically states:

 

1-4-105.Pronunciation of state name.

Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.

And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history and the early usage of the American immigrants.

Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is an innovation to be discouraged.

I love how there’s a disclaimer in the code, that this may not be most recent version. The keyword is not illegal though, it’s discouraged. *sadface*

Social Media for Law Firms – A New, Yet Semi-Short Introduction

In the past few months, I’ve been discussing the broad spectrum of how some social media sites can benefit your law firm. But what I realized in error is that I would eventually start running out of social media sites to discuss. (It’s one of the bad, yet truthful excuses to explain why there haven’t been any Social Media for Law Firms articles in a while.) In the past I’ve covered Facebook, Ning, Quora, Foursquare, Yelp and finally Avvo. If I were to continue down this path (even discussing them on a monthly basis) I would eventually run out of sites to discuss – and that’s not good.

However, I have found a way around this little problem and as luck would have it, I’ll still be able to keep the title. The simple solution is to discuss a beneficial topic of the actual social media site, rather the site as a whole. You may be asking yourself – “what on earth are you talking about?!” For this I’ll give you some examples:

Let’s say you want to learn about utilizing Facebook advertisements and how much money should you spend on them? Better yet, what about learning how to professionally connect with other law firms on Twitter? These examples demonstrate a more defined topic within the realms of the social media site. Just for fun I’ll list some more:

  • Quora vs. Avvo – Are They Both Necessary?
  • Should I keep my Personal Facebook Page Away from my Firm’s Account?
  • Repairing Your Reputation on Yelp
  • Getting a High Score on the Avvo Ranking System
  • The Special 3rd Party Tools of Twitter
  • What Equipment Do I Need to Startup a YouTube Channel?
  • Who Should Manage Your Social Media Accounts?
  • How Active Should My Firm Be on Social Media?

Just as a teaser, I’ll definitely be discussing some of those topics above.

 

An In-Depth Topic or a Short Discussion

You may want to think of these topics as double edged swords; one side may not be sharp, but the other side certainly is. In the coming months, you may notice that my articles will be a bit more in-depth on the desired topics of discussion (knock on wood). I could write a short segment to a question, but I’m not entirely certain if that’s going to help our SEO. Don’t ever expect me to be writing an article to a simple question such as:

  • How do I post on Twitter?
  • How do I unfollow someone on Facebook?
  • How do I subscribe to a YouTube channel?

Those questions can’t be made into in-depth articles, even if I wanted to (seek Yahoo Answers or Quora for those questions.) Before I begin this segment (which may take place as early as next week), feel free to ask some questions on social media sites and perhaps I’ll discuss them in more depth one day in the near future. See you next time for another Social Media for Law Firms.

Legally Strange – Impersonating a TSA Agent is Not Illegal

If you want to flip out and rant about how some district attorneys do their job, this would be the time. Last month, when Eric Slighton impersonated a TSA agent at San Francisco International Airport (SFO); he was only arrested on charges of public drunkenness (by California law, it’s only a misdemeanor). Initially, and to the nationwide suspicion, Slighton would be faced with false imprisonment and impersonating a TSA Agent. It’s only been a little over a month later and all of his charges have been dropped (in other words, he’s off the hook).

 

SayWhat

 

For a Better Word, Lack of Evidence

According to the initial report by CBS San Francisco, Slighton, banking executive, slipped through security (wearing a blue polo shirt and khakis) and proceeded to grope two women in private screening booths. Unfortunately, those screening booths did not contain video surveillance and the two women Slighton presumably screened ran off from the initial incident; most likely to catch their flights. This was quite a struggle for San Mateo County District Attorney, Steve Wagstaffe, who handled the case. Luckily for Slighton, he was not prosecuted by Wagstaffe for the actions he performed last July.

Normally criminal charges are dropped due to lack of evidence; which would make the most sense in this case, because the two women Slighton “supposedly” sexually assaulted were never found. But that only leaves to answer the most important question, why wasn’t Slighton charged for impersonating a TSA Agent? Better yet, why wasn’t Slighton charged for detaining two unsuspecting women? Well, according to Wagstaffe, there are federal laws against impersonating a police officer, but not as a TSA Agent.

That makes complete utter sense now doesn’t it? FindLaw’s Brett Snider even noted the following federal laws:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 912Assuming or pretending to be a federal employee or officer is a felony.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 913: Impersonating federal officer and employee and making detention or search is also a felony.

By Federal Law, Slighton should (and I emphasize should) have been prosecuted for impersonating a federal employee (TSA Agent) and detaining two the individuals at security. Furthermore, Slighton is the son-in-law of former Hong Kong leader, Tung Chee-hwa, but Wagstaffe claims that association was purely irrelevant to his decision. But tell me, do you think having a connection with a Hong Kong official and being a full-fledged executive banker would get someone off the hook for crimes like this? It’s relatively possible and it’s one of those instances where it’s ‘Legally Strange’.

Affirmations for Legal Professionals – Insight from Positive Promotions

As a Marketing Director here at Accurate Court Reporting, Inc. I receive a ton of catalogs and promotional samplers from various companies around the United States. Yesterday, however, I received a really interesting calendar sampler from a company called: “Positive Promotions”. I’ve heard of Positive Promotions before, but when they sent me the calendar, I discovered it was filled with motivational sayings for each month. This week instead of applying a topic of discussion on the theories of positive energy (and no I haven’t run out of ideas), I’ll share some of these samples with you:

 

 

Affirmation #13 (Opportunity):

“Each new day offers a chance to shine.”

 

Affirmation #14 (Communication):

“Shared insight creates an environment where everyone thrives.”

 

Affirmation #15 (Encouragement):

“The right kind of nurturing and support makes beautiful things happen.”

 

As always, I hope these small, but useful affirmations will help you in your daily tasks. See you next time for another Affirmations for Legal Professionals.

Legally Strange – The Government Says You’re Still Alive, Donald Eugene Miller

Back in October of last year, I covered a story about Donald Eugene Miller, age 61, being “legally dead”, but “officially alive” in eyes of mankind. It was a strange, but great story to cover at the time, because Halloween was right around the corner and I got to use some vampire and zombie references, respectively. Well, you’d think that after this whole situation has passed, Miller and his relatives could rest in peace, right? Wrong. It turns out the Social Security Administration wants all of its death benefits back, which were paid unto his two daughters accordingly, tallying more than $47,000.

 

Is Being Legally Dead is the New Alive?

To be fair, let’s recap what happened to Miller. Back in 1986 when Miller lost his job and had hefty child support payments exceeding over $26,000, he vanished from society; probably not knowing what to do with his life. So naturally, the authorities tried to track him down. As it turns out, there wasn’t a clue to be found and no one knew where he was. The information that they were able to acquire is that he was a heavy drinker and when he ran off, he probably died somewhere, which must have been heart-wrenching to his family. In 1994, Donald Eugene Miller was pronounced officially dead in the eyes of the Hancock County Probate Court of Ohio. But in 2005, Miller was found alive in the town of Fostoria, Ohio. His parents awkwardly had to break the bad news to him about being dead. I can only imagine the conversation that took place between them.

“Hey son, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re dead; we still love you very much though.”

As it seems, Miller was okay with this for a while – that is, until 2013 when he decided to see if he could get his death ruling overturned, so he could reinstate his driver’s license and Social Security card.

Judge Judy

But as this sad story continues, Judge Allan Davis couldn’t legally do that for him according to the Statue of Limitations. Miller had three years to prove he wasn’t dead, and in 1997, his time was officially up. Miller was 16 years late. It was truly (and I emphasize truly) an awkward situation for Judge Davis.

Now, 10 months later, the United States Government is ignoring the Davis’ ruling against Miller and demands for all their money back, which was paid onto his two daughters, respectively. You’d think this story could get even stranger? I mean what’s going to happen if Miller commits a crime, is he going to be punished in the eyes of the law, will he go to jail?

Personally, I feel bad for Miller in some respects, but seriously how is this scenario not put to rest? I can only imagine the conversations that Miller has, “Hi, my name is Donald Miller, I’m age 61 and the law doesn’t know whether I’m dead or alive.” That’s an icebreaker if I’ve ever saw one.

The real icing on the cake is that the Social Security Administration isn’t even going after Miller right away; they’re going after his two children first.

 

A Rare and Unusual Occurrence

Initially in 1994, when his ex-wife, Robin Miller asked the probate court to declare her ex-husband dead, they agreed accordingly, so her two daughters could collect the benefits from Social Security. They each received about $100 a week until they turned 18. The federal benefits were paid, which accumulated under $30,000. So, if you include the fees and interest calculated by the SSA, the two daughters owe $47,256; $28,711 to one and $18,545 to the other.

Does the SSA seriously think it’s going to extract this money that was distributed 20 years ago? Even Robin claims that she wasn’t sure what the money was spent on; she had a hard enough time trying to support her two kids. Well, according to the Courier, the SSA will first go after the two daughters for the money, then his ex-wife Robin and then finally Miller himself. Robin Miller (who’s new last name happens to be Miller when she remarried), doesn’t believe her or her daughters owe any money to the federal government – and she makes a valid point. In the eyes of the law, Miller was legally declared dead by the probate courts, which would permit the two siblings to acquire the funds.

In the lieu of these bizarre and rare demands, Robin has requested a waiver to the SSA, which they are currently considering. Alas, this brings up a brand new point; even if the SSA goes after the real culprit, Donald Miller, that won’t matter much either. Kevin Underhill from Lowering the Bar states that Miller won’t be able to get a job, yet alone a loan that will allow him to pay this monetary figure back, because he’s legally dead in the eyes of the law. So the SSA may just be chasing its own tail or perhaps they’ll say: “it’s best to swallow this situation and move on.”

Stay tuned for the next edition of Legally Strange!

Remembering Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Instead of conducting this week’s Legally Strange, I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate Robin Williams, one of the greatest comedians of all time. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked an awful lot about happiness and having a positive outlook on your job / life. If you remember William’s lead roles in movies like: Patch Adams, Jack or Mrs. Doubtfire, he’s always had a positive outlook on life. Now don’t get me wrong, Williams was struggling with depression and alcoholism, which ultimately led to his suicide on Monday; but according to his wife, Susan Schneider, her hopes is that everyone will remember the “countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

 

Remembering the Good Times with Robin Williams

 

“Make Your Life Spectacular.” – Robin Williams from the Movie Jack

 


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